Updated: May 11
Wild America deliver the kind of no-frills rock n’ roll that will surely have you reminiscing of an era gone by. The days before auto-tune, backing tracks and gimmicky visuals littered concert stages and the flavor of the month predicated much of what we hear. What they do is honest and real, and their music is perfectly suited for a sticky rock bar on a Saturday (or Thursday) night. My introduction to this band was about one year ago, when they were part of Brad Lee Entertainment’s Sunday Showcase Series and they played at the very same venue. I remember it being over ninety degrees in the club that night, and despite what felt like an indoor Savannah, the guys blazed through not one but two sets of material. Three quarters of the band were also doubling in Stairway to Halen, who were first on the bill that night. I mention this only because it exemplifies the work ethic of the band. A rough and tumble, take no prisoners vibe that they seem to flourish on.
Following Station’s phenomenal show, Wild America certainly had their work cut out for them but rose to the challenge. Those that stuck around until the wee hours of the night were treated to a fantastic set derived from their albums Gasoline and the newly released Old School Cool, both available on Kivel Records. From their debut album Gasoline, Wild America got off to one hell of a start with the chugging “Long Road”. Their set represented both albums with mostly equal attention, and from there they tackled “Outside” from their just released new CD. The highlight of the new material included the ballad “Sometimes Love” and the rocking “Are You Ready”, which features some lyrically pointed societal commentary but also serves as a reminder to us all. The latter also showcases the talents of drummer Derrick Pontier, formerly of Great White. Pontier is an extraordinary drummer and absolute madman behind the kit. He hits the drums hard and fast. If you ever get the chance to experience his playing in a small club, it’s not to be missed. You just have to see it for yourself.
“Love ‘Em And I’m Gone” was another favorite of mine in their showing and it came across just as aggressive in a live setting as it is on the new album. As I’ve come to expect from Wild America, guitarist Billy DiNapoli was setting off fireworks from the fretboard of his guitar, to the shock and awe of many. In a word, phenomenal, and his playing lifts the band’s music to another level. Bassist Steve Wovkanech hammered down on his bass throughout the show while also providing excellent background vocals that fill out the band’s sound. No easy task given the other half of the rhythm section that he’s keeping up with. Wild America kicked and clawed their way through one hell of a set. Simply put, they’re a grade-A, blue collar live band. Their set was one of my favorites of the night and my hat’s off to them for consistently delivering modern classic rock that’s devoid of any and all pretenses.
Wild America’s setlist:
01. Long Road* 02. Outside 03. Rockstar* 04. She Will* 05. Sometimes Love 06. Are You Ready? 07. Love ‘Em And I’m Gone 08. Gasoline* 09. She’s A Good Woman 10. Something Inside 11. Name 12. Renegade 13. Until We Meet Again